2015 ANNIV  10A. DOUBLE ENTENDRE WORLD LUXURY Issue 2015 - The Immigrant Experience PDF

 

 

The Immigrant Experience: Quest For Betterment

 

 

 

Over the millennia, hundreds of thousands of people have wandered from their home countries for different reasons. On foot at first, then on horseback (or camels, caribou, oxen or donkeys), later by carts and rafts, and then fuel-propelled vehicles on land, sea and air, exploratory curiosity (wanderlust) has always characterized our species.

 

The vast majority of these voyagers, however, have forsaken hearth and home to escape danger and to search for a better and safer life for them and their children. Abject poverty and danger have been the major factors in choosing to migrate elsewhere. A “better way of life” has been the clarion call to the dispossessed as well as the entrepreneurial, the languishing as well as the learned. The developed world has served as a beacon for immigrants from all over to our shores, and indeed never more so than today.

 

Most of us are descendants of immigrants, either recent or long past. While each immigrant’s story is unique, the process of leaving a homeland and being thrust into a new way of life can be daunting to new arrivals. To add to the stress, the presence of poverty, little education, new language and few marketable skills, feed upon each other to aggravate this experience. Immigrants often feel anxious and invisible, and frequently toil in poorly paid jobs. Even if they have some resources, novel sounds, signs, dress, foods, values, and customs that are jarringly different confront them.  They have to relearn social behaviors that we take for granted, such as voice tone, hand gestures and eye contact, and comfortable distances between people.

 

Immigrants tend to gather in familiar groups—family, ethnic, and racial clans. Working, playing, and relaxing and living among familiar people is comfortable.  The separation of cultures dissipates after a generation or two, but melting pots go only so far.  Ethnic communities exist in all countries where there are diverse cultures and immigrants. People gravitate to those with common roots and traditions, and they experience a sense of belonging.

 

Anti-immigrant attitudes dissipate with personal experiences with newcomers. Contacts during pleasant times (e.g., meals, parties, or sports events) and during stressful times, such as losses, illness or accidents, enlighten people about their similarities.  So-called foreigners, it turns out, are just like us.

 

Immigrants have enhanced our society, by enriching our culture, music, business, sports, science, education, cuisine and more, just like the contributions your own forebears (or you) have made.

 

 





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